It's possible that many people in the industrialized world think of life as fairly pleasant. Though they may have plenty of complaints, and some of them very serious, the majority might well say it's not a bad life.
But many people are sensitive to the world's agonies - her starving millions, her homeless masses, her abused children, even her abused natural resources. They are not satisfied just to talk about such problems or to be offended or agitated about them; they deeply yearn to help their sisters and brothers in an honest, practical way.
Some people may express their compassion by contributing time to worthy causes, while others may devote their whole lives to selfless service. But many of these people may also yearn with a subtle, inner disquiet to do more than they are doing. They may sense that their most sincere efforts are not only not enough, but not even their own highest effort.
There is more that we all can do. We can pray. We can turn with humble desire to the one all-loving Father of us all to heal these problems of suffering.
But is this practical? Can prayer by a comfortable human being on one side of the globe really help alleviate a tragic situation on the other side? Perhaps the answer depends on the quality of the prayer. When food is rich and nourishing, it will feed the hungry. When prayer is filled with the nourishment of humble spiritual understanding, it can help relieve suffering at a profound depth.
Apparently many doubt this. Sadly, to doubt God is common today. With the pervasiveness of materialism in many forms, childlikeness and innocence seem to have lessened in many of us. If we cannot see or touch or hear something, we find it hard to believe that it is real. And conversely, all that many of us see and touch we accept as indisputable reality. The old proverb ''Seeing is believing'' seems to many an almost ultimate authority. Perhaps as a result, many caring people see human help only in terms of physical or financial aid.
Clearly such aid is vital. But we may need to see that prayer plays an indispensable role - not only in bringing to light the most effective means of providing such aid, but in blessing humanity with a sense of God's loving care.
Christ Jesus was the most compassionate man who ever walked this aching earth , and he was also its most effective helper. He said, ''Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'' n1 Multitudes did just that and were healed.
n1 Matthew 11:28.
To some, perhaps even greater than the release from suffering was their awakening to the eternal Christ, Truth.The Christ, exemplified so fully by Jesus , lifts us to at least glimpse that God is infinite good and that man is actually His beloved child, not a miserable or even a cheerful mortal.
In order to satisfy our very right desire to be compassionate in the way Jesus showed, we have to grow in the spiritual understanding, purity, and grace that fueled his affection. One cannot touch the world at the deepest practical level without understanding man in his true identity - the spiritual offspring of God. Through this understanding we come to see that because God and His perfect creation are all, suffering is an imposition on human thought and life, and it has no basis in divine reality. When we clearly perceive this in the depths of heartfelt prayer, we are at that very instant helping the world, and ourselves, in a profound way.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, yearned to help humanity. She writes, ''The lame, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery of their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharaohs, who to-day, as of yore, hold the children of Israel in bondage.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 226.
We all can satisfy our deepest compassion for the world. Our lives may not make dramatic headlines. But through prayer based on humble spiritual understanding we can bless the world at a level that perhaps no other aid can reach. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16